The green retail checklist, step 2


Welcome back to our series of posts that provide a green enterprise checklist for retailers. In my previous post, I described how to create a vision for sustainability and introduced five areas of focus to help you begin implementing that vision. The first area on our checklist is to evaluate your business operations.

Your business operations

Green architecture is making inroads in the retail world as large companies like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Home Depot are building or retrofitting stores to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications. Retailers who rent their facilities will need to get landlords onside to make changes. Most will be supportive of plans that outline possibilities for savings through energy efficiency.

Data compiled by Platts Research and Consulting shows retail buildings in the U.S. spend an annual average of $1.21 per square foot on electricity and 14 cents per square foot on natural gas. In a typical retail building, lighting, cooling and heating represent 69 to 84 percent of total use depending on climate, making those systems the best targets for energy savings. BC Hydro provides an excellent guide to managing energy costs in retail.

Immediate areas to consider, include:

  1. Reduce unnecessary lighting:
    • Evaluate actual lighting needs since many spaces are over lit.
    • Bring in a lighting consultant who can review your lighting layout for appropriate light levels, quality, color rendering, colour uniformity and energy efficiency.
    • If your building gets plenty of natural light, experiment with turning off lights near your windows.
    • Repaint interiors in white or a light colour to increase reflection.
    • Install motion detectors in low-traffic areas like restrooms, kitchens, storage facilities and meeting rooms that automatically turn off lights.
  2. Light right:
    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
    • If esthetics demand incandescent lighting, reduce the bulb wattage.
    • Replace fluorescent tube lighting with energy-efficient T8 tubes, which are 50% more efficient than older models.
    • LED lights may be appropriate for areas such as display cases or signage. They use only 10% of the energy of incandescent and last 10-25 years.
    • Take control:
    • If single light switches control large areas it may pay to wire in more switches maximize lighting control.
    • Install timers or photosensitive units that turn lights on and off based on changes in natural light.
    • Consider installing a centralized energy management system (EMS) to manage building components such as lights, heating and air conditioning, and equipment. An EMS can save 5-30% in energy costs and pay for itself within two to four years.
  3. Optimize heating and cooling:
    • Ensure your building is properly sealed including weather stripping and caulking doors and windows, and ensuring that the building is properly insulated.
    • Install electronic programmable thermostats, which automatically adjust the building's temperature.
    • During winter, heat your building to a maximum of 21°C (70°F) when occupied, 16°C (61°F) when unoccupied.
    • Cool your building in summer to no lower than 24°C (75°F) when occupied, and avoid using the air conditioner overnight when unoccupied.
  4. Standard procedures and protocols:
    • Turn off exterior, safety and security lights upon arrival; leave only necessary lights on after hours.
    • Keep energy use to a minimum for early or late skeleton crews.
    • Set thermostats to reach optimal temperatures 30 minutes to an hour after employees arrive; set back temperature an hour before closing.
    • Turn off lights near windows and doors during daytime, and in unoccupied areas.
    • Open your building, if possible, on cool summer nights.
    • Adjust thermostats for weekend closings.
    • Turn off your water heater if you'll be closed for three days or longer.

Check back next week as we continue this series.

The full list of posts in this series follows:

The Green Retail Checklist

Step 1: Create the vision

Step 2: Evaluate your operations

Step 3: Evaluate your merchandise

Step 4: Evaluate your supplies

Step 5: Evaluate your Advertising and Marketing

Step 6: Evaluate your People


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